The Rule

It is a rule.

Unspoken, but understood.

New visitors quickly learn the futility of escape.

For me, a time does not exist without it.

I help my father pull out two long cardboard boxes, careful to avoid tearing them with the heavy weight inside.

“I want I Get Around,” I say, requesting one of my favorite Beach Boys songs.

He pulls the vinyl from the sleeve, gently placing it onto the turntable and setting the needle.

I fly into action as the words blast through the speakers. I jump, twirl, spin, flail, and somersault over the couch. My little sister joins in, mimicking my movements.

I perform my own brand of dance, as I execute the jumps away from the tiny corner where the record player sits to avoid being scolded for skipping the songs.

I am not always successful.

“Now the Moody Blues!” I say, waiting impatiently as my dad trades the records. The instrumental introduction of The Voice crescendos as I switch to ballet-like moves, arms arcing, toes pointing, a slow turn. I wait for the moment the band explodes. Waiting. Waiting.

The drums kick in and I go crazy, accidentally skipping the song with my enthusiasm.

“Now Star Wars! The throne room song!”

And on and on, until I exhaust my favorites.

Not every night, but many.

The addition of a tape deck puts the power into my hands. I wait with patience, stopping to check the progress, to see if I’ve reached the beginning of the song I want. I find it and push the “memory” button on the fancy player.

Thunder crackles and a wolf howls. Footsteps. My favorite song surrounds me as the beat of Thriller kicks in.

I move with more control now, the product of dance classes. Last year the high school kids performed it at our recital, complete with a fog machine and glowing eyes. I try to remember their moves and sway to the beat.

My sister is my shadow again.

At the end, I push rewind and auto play. To me, it is magic, how the tape counts down to zero, replaying my song even though it is the last one on this side of the tape.

And we dance.

The Making of Thriller opens my eyes. I hate zombies, unless they dance.

The movie Breakin’ stirs longing in me, to dance as they do. To spin on my head. To somehow isolate my movements in an unfathomable way.

The best I manage is the caterpillar.

I grow, I change. But always I dance.

My brother is born, and we start him young, showing him the joy in it.

My best friend joins in my dance class. We learn hip hop and jazz.

Seniors in high school now, she tries tumbling with me – our oldest classmate is nine years old.

We don’t care. Much.

Our group of friends consists of us and multiple guys – who are silly and fun and make us laugh.

They learn the rule she has known for so long.

At my house when the music plays, you dance. There are no wallflowers.

They grumble and moan, but join in.

They dance. For some of them the only time outside of a future wedding.

Outside opportunities to dance dwindle as I graduate college. It hurts, this missing piece.

But at home, when the music plays, I still dance. My husband – who learned “The Rule” long ago – and two children join in with their spastic craziness.

I smile, joy at passing on the love dance.

Sometimes a chance arises to recapture my love of performing.

And I dance. To the magical music of my past.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Your assignment this week is based on rhythm, which you can use to help entertain and engage your readers.

Let’s make it more literal.

Write about a time that rhythm, or a lack thereof, played a role in your life. And don’t use the word “rhythm.”

Maybe it’s a time that you danced to a special song. Maybe it’s a period of your life during which the days were marked by a distinct pattern. Or maybe it’s a time that you couldn’t catch your breath because life just kept coming at your randomly.

It’s up to you.

Let’s see if you can convey that rhythm using your writing, and not the word itself.

* * *

For those of you curious to see my love of dance in action, you can see me perform HERE. I’m the one who sticks out because I have the white shirt on.

There is a reason my Mommy blog is called “Dances with Chaos“…

Concrit is welcomed as always.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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36 Responses to The Rule

  1. Nancy C says:

    The love dance! I love the image of the you all, the freedom, and pure joy of it.

    • I was brainstorming for this prompt and realized I had over 100 memories where dance played a role in my life.

      I couldn’t choose, so I went with how integral it is.

      And I love how my children are embracing it as well.

  2. I love that it seems like you have no control over the dance, that the music forces you. Something about your words make me imagine you smiling the whole time, which is fantastic.
    And that you enforce The Rule? Awesome.
    Came from TRDC linkup.

    • You understood it exactly.

      If I hear a beat that grabs me, I have to move – even if it must be restrained to toe tapping or head bobbing.

      When I am angry, I put on a song to dance out my frustrations too, and have done this since I was about 13. Then it was “Black Cat” by Janet Jackson. Now, it’s “Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge.

      And yes, dancing makes me smile. I was always the girl dancing by herself (completely sober) because no one was drunk enough to join me. Earlier was also when they played the best music.

      The Rule is still enforced. Friends beware….

  3. Frelle says:

    beautiful, and I love that you’ve passed on the rule! I love the silliness, the freedom, and the inclusion.. both in your childhood home and now. Thank you for reminding me to make sure my family is dancing when the music plays 🙂

    • Family dance time is very common in late afternoon (when it’s too hot to go outside) or just after dinner, when my children have a ton of energy to burn off. I do the dishes in the kitchen (which opens to the family room) and dance around there while my family goes crazy with my husband.

      I have to have music to do chores/clean. It is rule #2…

  4. NC Narrator says:

    You managed to hit most of my favorites growing up! I only dance in the privacy of my house…where the only witnesses to my complete lack of style or skill are my husband and children (who can be bribed and/or threatened to maintain their silence).

  5. Susan says:

    Loved how you described your journey with dancing, dragging others along with you. Glad you’re still dancing! Very nice writing.

    • Oh yes, many were dragged along with me. I am certain my husband never danced until he met me (back when he just belonged to my group of friends).

      When they were still able to move, I used to love to put on “in the mood” and watch my grandparents dance together in a way my generation is lost on. Sadly, my g-pa’s knee prevents this now.

      But it was magic.

  6. Sweaty says:

    Now I really feel like dancing to the beat of “Thriller!” Your writing really captured the excitement, the joy and thrill of dancing, of jumping up and down, of moving every which way when the music’s playing.

    What a wonderful childhood you had, and now that you have a family of your own, it’s good to know that the Rule still stands 🙂

    • Thriller is still one of the best videos and dances. And it is so fun to perform.

      Even though zombies are the one thing/movie I cannot watch – they freak me out.

      Unless they’re dancing. Somehow, they are exempt.

      I am grateful my family encouraged dancing. My brother’s skills far surpass my own I believe, in part, because my sister and I gave him no choice but to love dancing.

      And yes, I’m passing it on..

  7. Kir says:

    I am another girl who loves to Dance, I will chair dance, I will hum to a tune, I will spin and skip down a hallway at work, a melody in my head.

    I love how you brought us from the beginning to present day and we saw the evolution of the RULE. it’s awesome 🙂

  8. Jennifer says:

    I love that you got those boys to dance, that alone speaks to the power of your dancing force. Your love for movement comes across so clearly here and it’s amazing that you are able to pass that down to your own.

    • Yes, getting those boys to dance was a challenge, especially the first time.

      They soon learned…

      Dancing with my babies was one of the ways I could get them to sleep as infants. They didn’t have a chance to not love to dance.

  9. Terry says:

    I love that you included the link…so that I could love the writing and the dancing. I love to dance too…I will never forget, 8 months pregnat and dancing to the Mashed Potato. Now that was a sight to see.
    I love how you organized your writing, the passing of time, the change in technology and music. It told so much…but because of your sequencing skills it worked perfectly!

    • Funny you should mention dancing and pregnant..

      I joined a gym when my son was 6 months old. I still belong. For a while they had my favorite class ever: Dance Jam. It was like revisiting my high school years where we learned an actual dance, not just “step touch, step touch”.

      When I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter, I continued taking the class every week. As I got larger, I had to adapt a few moves (like any floor work or fast spins – the belly lagged a bit behind), but I still danced.

      I danced into through my 38th week of pregnancy, only missing the class 6 days before my daughter was born due to false labor.

      I miss that class every day. They canceled it about a year ago to replace with Zumba – which is awesome, but it’s not the same.

      I’d love to see footage of you doing the Mashed Potato. I don’t even know how to do that dance.

      Thanks for the comment!

  10. Lex says:

    You’ve done an amazing job of putting forth the image of the freedom dance brings you. The pure joy it is! What a wonderful post!!

  11. christina says:

    this made me smile so much. we didn’t dance much as kids, but now with my Lovie, we dance a lot when we’re home. she loves it… and i think i need to make sure we do it more often, too.

  12. Andrea says:

    This was fantastic. The memories and the way music touches you and your family. For me, it’s similar, but we sing, my family is crazy like that and we tend to sing. Nutty, right? But loads of fun!! Loved it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  13. Bernadette says:

    I LOVED THIS. the vinyl, the dancing, it could have been my house!

  14. Jackie says:

    I loved the introduction, the reference to the records and then the progression was fabulous across the board, music and life! Ending with your husband following the rule was brillant, and I guess shows you got the right guy too!

    • I don’t know if I could have married a guy unwilling to follow the rule.

      He danced at our wedding. Even without me (granted it was my sister, so The Rule was still in play).

      We had dancing for six hours at our wedding – we didn’t stop until we were kicked out.

  15. angela says:

    Come hang out with me, ok? Dancing is one of my favorite things. The kids and I do it every day. Dylan doesn’t say hardly anything, but dance is a word he has.

    Yet, I married a man who only dances under extreme influence of alcohol or in states (like Nevada) where he is positive he won’t see anyone he knows.

    • It is a challenge to get my husband to dance in public unless it’s a wedding. He hates dancing in clubs/bars.

      We had a rule in our younger years when at a bar: if he didn’t want to dance with me, he couldn’t complain if I danced with someone else. Because to me, it was just doing something I loved to do.

      But at our home, my parents home, friend’s weddings – he’s more than willing.

      And I would love to go dancing with you, my friend! Bring. It. On!
      And I love to see him with our children dancing.

  16. Elaine says:

    You had Thriller on tape? Ah man, that was my 9th birthday present, but the actual record album. I still remember that cover. Before MJ got all silly with his plastic surgery! 😉

    Thanks for the memories. 🙂

    • We had the record album too, but due to our enthusiasm dancing, it was better to play the tape so we avoided skipping. 🙂

      I have the CD, too, and copied it onto my iPod. And bought The Making of Thriller.

      I had quite the crush on MJ before he went all weird. I was insanely jealous of his dancing ability.

      I never did master the moonwalk…

  17. Jessica says:

    Love that you dance with your kids. I have always found it is the perfect way to fix a bad day. Wonder if they will be blogging about dancing with you someday :).

    • It is true. Take some whining children, turn on the music, have a dance party – it has the ability to turn the day around.

      I’m glad there is dance at your house too.

      I’m sure there will be some other form of sharing stories by the time they’re grown, and perhaps they will share memories of their crazy parents dancing with them.

  18. The Sweetest says:

    So fun- I love how you’ve written about these memories. I was the same kind of kid, always dancing. Still am. Now my three year old son barks our his record requests. “Van Halen!” “Fleetwood Mac!” But he doesn’t dance. He sits. And listens. Maybe we have a future musician on our hands.

  19. PearlsGirl says:

    I love dance. I wrote about dance as well. Thanks for this journey!!

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